MODERNITY AT LARGE IN PERU

This week Prospect Journal is publishing a series of photo journals about international travel – join us as we explore a diverse set of countries by reading our “Changing Perspectives: Journalism Through an International Lens” series!

By Joe Armenta
Staff Writer

Peru is among the fastest growing economies in Latin America as a result of export-oriented policy and an expansion of foreign direct investment. Increased growth has led to greater prosperity among many Peruvians; however, it has also run into some new and existing challenges. This photo journal provides a brief look into these issues.

The municipality of Miraflores serves as the financial hub of the country, and is perhaps the most prominent emblem of Peru’s economic success. An expanding middle-class has created a housing boom, leading to the development of residential skyscrapers that tower over public spaces. As population density explodes in these highly concentrated urban zones, the need for central planning for utilities and infrastructure is crucial for residents.

One of the key components to the Peru’s 21st-century economic strategy is foreign direct investment brought about by international tourism. Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is at the forefront of this surge. The site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, the majority of whom spread their foreign currencies throughout the country creating a large tourist industry.

Snowy peaks provide ample environment for backpackers seeking adventure, but also provide a challenging environment for the development of small communities in the highlands. The Peruvian Andes stretch down the middle of the country separating the desert coast from the lush Amazonian rainforest. Few roads exist that wind up the peaks of these mountains, which reach more than 21,000 feet in altitude.

Loreto is the largest region in Peru land-wise, and also harnesses some of the biggest opportunities for growth in the nation. The Amazon rainforest possesses a wide variety of natural resources that can be used for food and pharmaceuticals. However, much of the development of the region is hindered by the lack of infrastructure. Outsiders can access this area only by plane or boat. While rivers are often referred to as the highway of the rainforest, it often takes days to reach desired destinations using boats.

Protests are a common occurrence throughout Peru. As the highly centralized country continually grows, public servants regularly go on strike demanding higher wages. Public gatherings can be small, as is the case for this photo, or large collections of people halt the streets of the capital, Lima.

The success of the Peruvian economy should not overshadow one of the country’s most dire problems: inequality. On the outskirts of Lima, the slums of San Juan de Lurigancho house thousands of people who live in destitution. Poor living conditions are coupled with public health problems as well as the lack of basic necessities such as running water and adequate electricity. Houses are usually constructed with scrap material from industrial zones.

This is Patty’s house. Slum life is accompanied by many uncertainties. Access to quality education and healthcare is limited, as is the security of a long-term, well-paying job.

The urban explosion of Cusco, shown in the background, has pushed many residents higher into the mountainsides where utilities such as running water, sewage, and electricity are scarce. Residents often rely on traditional means to survive and build such things as terraces and llama corrals out of loose rock found nearby their homes. This creates a problem for archeologist studying the area, as many of these modern constructions are built upon centuries-old remains of the Inca civilization.

While Western culture has seeped into the country in the recent years, Peruvians still devote a great deal of energy to celebrating local festivities. In October, thousands of limeños turn out to celebrate the final days of a procession paying tribute to “Nuesto Señor de los Milargos.” This is a tradition that began during the colonial days and combines Catholic, African slave, and indigenous histories.

The presence of Catholicism is largely felt in Peru. During the colonial days, Catholicism was used as a form of recognizing administrative legitimacy and establishing control. Today, the religion plays more into the everyday lives of Peruvians and the decisions that they make.

Adding to the land of ruins that makes up Peru is a boat that rests on the beach of Chiclayo. The rusty marine craft is a by-product of the fishing industry of the late 20th century. A once dominant trade, the profession has since been replaced due to several factors including a territorial dispute with Chile and the loss of government protection. As the ship slowly deteriorates, a new country is emerging with the help of a boom in economic activity. While growth has bettered the lives of many Peruvians, there is still much work to be done both in terms of social and technological advancement.

HISTORY, HOLIDAYS AND HAM: A YEAR ABROAD IN SPAIN

This week Prospect Journal is publishing a series of photo journals about international travel – join us as we explore a diverse set of countries by reading our “Changing Perspectives: Journalism Through an International Lens” series!

By Emma Hodson
Staff Writer

I was going to Spain, and on the plane ride envisioned myself lisping to waiters to bring me more paella. While I never picked up the famous Spanish lisp, I did have my fill of paella, flamenco and my personal favorite —architecture left over from Islamic Spain. I spent a year in Granada, a major city in the southern province of Andalusia. There, I attended University of Granada, where my classes were conducted entirely in rapid-fire Andalusian Spanish. While Granada was my home base, and Monday through Thursday were generally spent haphazardly navigating the Spanish education system, I took weekends as opportunity for travel. It would be impossible to document every memory of every corner of Spain I was able to visit, but the following pictures will have to suffice.

Granada, Spain
Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada within the southernmost autonomous community of Andalusia. Like many other cities in southern Spain, Granada is known for its architectural and cultural remnants of the Muslim rulers who controlled the Iberian Peninsula from the year 711 until the conquest of the Catholic monarchs in 1492.

Alhambra
Granada’s most famous landmark is the Alhambra, a palace built during the Nasrid Dynasty in the 1300’s. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Alhambra is one of the most visited sites in Spain. I personally visited the Alhambra two times, and its beauty certainly did not diminish. The exact geometric patterns of its architecture, its arched doorway, and the carvings of Arabic calligraphy are breathtaking.

Alhambra
As a student of the Arabic language, I was particularly amazed by the Alhambra. Unfortunately, as much as I tried, I could not decipher the Arabic inscriptions on the wall. Regardless, long portions of my visits to the Alhambra consisted of me staring adamantly at all the ornately carved walls.

Generalife Gardens
The Alhambra consists of a few different parts, including the Generalife gardens. The Generalife was the summer palace of the Nasrid kings, and visitors of the Generalife will have no doubts as to why. The lush garden walls are draped with flowers and fountains run throughout. I was struck by the use of water as an architectural element in the Islamic architecture in Spain. In the summer months, with temperatures rising over the 100 degree mark, the water provides a cooling and calming atmosphere to the gardens.

Carre Supermercado, Granada, Spain
While Spanish food is often raved about in the US, it seems to me that the emphasis is unfairly placed on paella. In reality, ham, or in Spanish jamón, is truly the dish that epitomizes Spanish cuisine. Served in everything from tapas, to breakfast foods, Iberian ham is abundant, and can often be found hanging in restaurants, cafés, grocery stores, gas stations, Chinese restaurants—or really, anywhere. In Spain, no time is a bad time for ham.

Nerja, Spain
The Mediterranean Sea is only a few hours away from Granada, duly named the Costa del Sol, or the Sunny Coast. Its sparkling blue water, white sandy beaches, and its usually sunny weather have been a huge attraction not only for Spaniards, but for ex-patriots from the UK, looking for sunnier skies. Especially in Nerja, one of the most popular beach destinations, Irish pubs and English taverns are never too far from sight.

Mezquita-Catedral, Córdoba
One of my favorite places other than Granada in Andalusia was the city of Córdoba. Its streets are lined with orange trees, and the old Jewish quarter recalls again the days of the Islamic empires, where Jews, Christians and Muslims cohabited the cities while maintaining their separate niches. This coexistence of course was not maintained, and this fact is most visible in Cordoba’s most famous landmark, the mezquita-catedral, or the Mosque-Cathedral. Once a large Islamic mosque, it was converted into a Catholic cathedral during the Reconquista. Massive in size, the Mosque-Cathedral maintains its Islamic architecture while still having ornate catholic paintings, statues, pews and chapel features.

Besalú, Catalunya, Spain
Barcelona is famous for obvious reasons, but less-renowned cities in Catalunya are definitely worth a visit. I particularly enjoyed visiting the medieval city of Besalú, a few hours outside Barcelona. It was there that it was truly apparent that Catalunya had a distinct culture from much of Spain. Our tour guide unmistakably spoke Spanish as a second language as she explained to us the long history of Besalú and the various groups that had occupied it throughout the ages. Though it had been occupied by the French as well as the Islamic empire, today the Catalan flag flies high on the stone gateways to the city.

Mallorca, Spain
Since the Spanish University seemed to be fond of excuses for a holiday, I was able to have a second Spring Break of sorts, which I spent in Mallorca. One of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca, along with Ibiza, Minorca, Formentera, and a few other islands, compose an off-shore component of the Spanish nation. Mallorca is home to the famous tennis player Rafael Nadal, and is often thought of as a party destination, but I experienced it as a place of incredible natural beauty, with rocky cliffs, crystal blue water and sprawling hills.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
The last place I visited in Spain was Bilbao, another large city in Basque Country. Mostly an industrial city, Bilbao draws most of its tourism because of its famous Guggenheim Museum, which resembles a massive ship as it flanks the river. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the museum is a strange albeit beautiful landmark, and it houses a large variety of modern art. Though the museum is the main attraction, I enjoyed Bilbao by strolling along the river by day and eating Basque tapas, called pintxos, by night.

My year in Spain was beyond doubt the most incredible year of my life. Spain’s history, culturally varied autonomous communities, its art and architecture, and its natural beauty are only umbrella terms for the experiences and memories that I will have for my entire life.

EXPLORATION OF CARIBBEAN LIFE: A TRIP THROUGH BELIZE

This week Prospect Journal is publishing a series of photo journals about international travel – join us as we explore a diverse set of countries by reading our “Changing Perspectives: Journalism Through an International Lens” series!

By Rebecca Benest
Staff Writer

I spent two weeks with family in Belize, a small country in Central America near Guatemala. This is the view from our front door in the small town of Dangriga. Belize is the only country in Central and South America where English is the official language, although Spanish and Creole are more commonly spoken by the natives. While there, I was able to travel throughout the country, including the capital, Belmopan. Although poverty-stricken, the country is strikingly beautiful.

This tree, which was part of a tour through the rainforest, is crawling with termites. The termites are actually edible, and tasted a bit like minty carrots, although I would not suggest them as a snack because of their unappetizing texture.

In the rainforest, there are several trails you can drive on to reach a large variety of clearings, wildlife and lakes. The large national parks offer several trails, including the one we took in our large van, which led to a waterfall surrounded by birds and small fish that nibble at your toes as you stand in the water.

The cave rivers are another natural beauty and tourist destination of Belize. The tour guides lead you on a trek through the forest to the head of the river, telling you about the ancient Mayan history Belize has to offer on the way. The cave tours are only offered during the dry season, as the rain often floods the openings during the wet season.

This is a photo of a coconut before the skin is carved away to reveal the small brown coconut sold in grocery stores. Growing on the beach outside our door, coconuts produce a juice that is a common drink, sold at all the marketplaces in Dangriga and Belmopan.

This is one of the many fruit markets the locals frequent. The fresh fruits and vegetables are incomparable to those you find in the United States, tasting as though you picked the mango off the tree yourself.

Charlie the fisherman is pictured here getting the morning’s catch ready for the market. Charlie also took us on a tour to one of the nearby islands, as many of the locals are willing to do.

Fish are an incredibly large market for Belize, and are a main source of income for its people, both through domestic consumption and international exports. It’s incredibly hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t have fish on half the menu, and you can count on it to be fresh and cooked perfectly.

We found this iguana sunbathing on the side of the road. It is also common to see other animals, such as wild boars, run across the road as you drive by.

On Christmas Day, the people of Dangriga gathered in the heart of the town to watch the festivities, which were mainly comprised of native songs and dances celebrating the holiday.

Besides barbeques and decorations, many people dressed in costume participated in the traditional dance and song. Most of this was in the Belizean Creole, a mixture of English, Spanish, French and Dutch. Dancers attached shells to their ankles to add rhythm to the dances.

Two of the dancers pose for us after the festivities. From what we could understand of what they told us, they are dressed as the gods, and they are dancing to pray for a new year and, by dressing in their likeness, thank the gods for what they have given the people. The costumes are all handmade and saved for the following years.

This was one of the pyramids at the Mayan city of Xunantunich, which means “maiden of the rock”. From the top of the pyramid, you can see the Guatemalan border and Tikal, one of the most famous Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Xunantunich was a burial site, and the Mayan people lived further down near the river. The pyramids are all made out of limestone, and it is still a mystery how the Mayans were able to move the limestone and build the pyramids with the incredibly limited technology they had access to.

In a closer view of the pyramids, we see how the Mayans used frieze to tell the stories of their gods and the kings who were buried inside.

As two birds perch on a fence they feed each other pieces of corn. Although completely wild birds, they returned to the restaurant where we were to get food from the cooks there, who named and fed them.

This is chili mash, a mixture of ground habanero that is fermented in its early stages before becoming hot sauce. The photo was taken at Marie Sharp’s, a hot sauce factory based in Belize, which provides hot sauce to countries all over the world, and is one of the main chili sauce suppliers for Japan. The chilies themselves are all grown in the farms right outside the factory, and are completely fresh and organic. The factory also offers tourists an inside tour of the facility to see the process in totality.

This little girl, Elia, spent the day with us on the beach in Punta Gorda, a town undergoing heavy development allowing tourists to buy extravagant houses and retire on the Belizean seaside.